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|Schooling In Nigeria, Paying In Dollars by solaugo: 6:43am On Jul 05, 2012|
To those complaining about the high cost of private school education in Nigeria, the Regent Schools in Abuja have taken the issue to a different level. Its tuition fees are denominated in US dollars. To enroll a two-year-old child in the Regent Primary School costs thousands of dollars. The same condition applies if parents crave a place for their teenage children in the Regent Secondary School.
The school was established in 2000 and is run by expatriates and Nigerian staff. Located in the heart of Abuja — Wuse 3 — the primary school claims to expose children to a wide variety of learning opportunities to develop their individual skills and interests.
In view of the high fees, it is not a surprise that the students are mostly children of expatriates, governors, senators, ministers and others who have benefitted from the wealth of the nation.
The school is organised into three departments: early years, covering playgroup, nursery and reception years; lower primary, embracing Years 1-3; and upper primary, providing for Years 4-6. Each class is said to have 20 pupils, and every class has both a class teacher and a full-time teaching assistant.
To place a ward in the school, a non-refundable fee of $120 is required to cover application, entrance tests, interview and administration costs. A non-refundable school development charge of $1,200 is demanded on accepting an offered place. The term fee per child is $3,500 — excluding security and medical deposits and other administrative charges.
Findings indicate that the security deposit is used to pay for items or facility destroyed by students. The deposit must be replenished at the start of each term at an agreed sum. The medical deposit is used to take care of minor expenses if a student spends time in the sick bay or is administered medication due to minor injuries or sickness. Dental fees and other medical fees incurred outside of school are not charged to the account. The fee is not constant and may change annually. The sum of N20, 000 and above is payable as medical deposit per child.
Regent says its teaching staff are all qualified degree-holders and an ongoing programme of in-house staff training ensures that all staff are familiar with the British approach. It further says that a number of personnel are sponsored each year by the school to attend courses in Africa and in the United Kingdom.
The Regent Secondary School has about 25 ‘specialist’ subject teachers and it offers extra-curricular programmes in sport, music and drama. Students are placed in Years (Class) 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. The term fee for Years 7, 8 and 9 is $3,200 while annual fee is $ 9,600. The term fee for Years 10 and 11 is $3,600 and the annual fee is $10,800.
The school offers boarding facilities and these do not come cheap either. The term fee for boarding is $2,667 and the annual fee is $8,000 for all classes. The school says fees may be paid in naira at the exchange rate to be given by the bursar, but a parent who spoke on the condition of anonymity told our correspondent that the exchange rate given by the school is prohibitive. “It is not advisable to pay in naira because the exchange rate the school would impose on you is high and discriminatory,” he said.
According to the parent, the various fees charged by the school put a hole in his pockets. He said that the unpredictable educational system in the country made him to enroll his children in the school so they could have the kind of education he wants for them.
The school says it places emphasis on the core subjects of literacy, numeracy, science and Information and Communication Technology with a daily reading time for all pupils. Majority of the students are Nigerians but there are other nationals like the French, Americans, Britons, Indonesians, Pakistanis, Chinese, South Africans, Kenyans, Cameroonians and Venezuelans.
The school offers its own curriculum, which, according to it, was modelled on the British National Curriculum. French is introduced from Year 1 and the children have weekly lessons in Art, music, design technology and Physical Education as well as French and others.
The headmaster of the school, Michael Robinson, declined to speak on the reason for asking parents to pay in dollars when naira is the legal tender in the country. In response to an inquiry sent to him, he says in a terse mail, “You should direct your enquiry, in writing, to the proprietress, the Regent School, Abuja. My role is to look after the education of the children and the well-being of pupils and staff.”
The FCT Education Secretariat Public Relations Officer, Tony Agunloye, describes Regent as one of the international schools in Abuja that were allowed to denominate their school fees in foreign currency, stressing that they have not broken any law by charging foreign currency.
He explains that the school is meant for children of diplomats and expatriates, adding that they are allowed to run international curriculum and a mix of local subjects that reflects Nigerian economy and culture.
“We also have such international schools in Lagos and they are allowed to offer international curricula in addition to local Nigerian subjects. This is because many of the pupils may want to further their education in foreign universities. The schools are allowed to charge dollars as school fees, but parents are not compelled to pay in foreign currencies; anyone can pay in naira if they wished,” Agunloye explains.
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